Three Reasons Your Church Will Fail

Bill Reichart, who writes at the heretolead blog, posted these three reasons your church will fail:
1. Launching too many ministries. Most ministries begin with good intentions, trying to meet a legitimate, specialized need. Over time, these ministries become expensive and volunteer intensive. All the while, their effectiveness dwindles. When launching new ministries, you must consider sustainability. What will this ministry look like at five times it’s size. It may not cost much now, but what about later? In my experience, new churches try to be all things to all people, and in offering so many ministries, they ensure that none of them are quality. It’s better to do a few things well than offer a bunch of programs that scratch the surface.

2. Being sidetracked by difficult people. New churches attract some great people, but they are also a breeding ground for difficult people. Talking a good talk, these people often come in with baggage that takes your church off mission. Before long, you’re spending a great deal of time justifying what you do to people who are slightly misaligned. Instead of reaching people, you’re coddling people. I’m talking about the volunteers who just can’t submit to leadership, the finance team member who always seems to have a problem with spending money on outreach, or the former deacon who wants your church to be a little more like his last church. In five years, I’ve learned that I can’t justify what we’re about to some people.

3. Working in it, not on it. In new churches especially, the work comes at a fast a furious pace. You had months to plan your first service, but only six days to plan the next. You’re starting things, launching things, meeting with people, and operating week-to-week. While some of this is necessary, if you never back up to evaluate and create systems, then you’re going to stay stuck in the hamster wheel of ministry. New churches must work on the organization, create processes, and develop healthy systems. We’ve got to stop reacting to this week’s problem and implement a long-term strategy. For what it’s worth, this is why I’m investing a ton of time into launching six core resources that will jump start or refresh healthy systems in your church.

These are just three of the issues young churches (and established churches, for that matter) will face. Do you agree? What would you add to the list?
I gotta admit, I've seen each of these at work in my own ministry with Cobblestone these last eleven years. He's right. So...what do you think? Agree, disagree? Add, subtract?


  1. Bob, I don't know enough about Cobblestone yet to comment on specifics but there is a great deal of common sense in his comments and I would say many churches have gotten bogged down in the humanity these points represent. But my first reaction in reading those is 'where is God in all of that?'. I believe in what Blackaby says about planning 'God-sized' plans, and the power of Cymbala's "Fresh-wind, Fresh fire" and building an internal structure like "The Purpose Driven Church", all things that give God room to work. Am I just too idealistic? -Mary Bracey

  2. Mary, I don't think you're too idealistic at all! I think you're dead on. To answer the "Where is God" question, I think he's in each of those points. Most church planters/pastors/leadership teams don't make the above mistakes as a result of waiting on God and pursuing HIS vision passionately, but the opposite: we tend to pursue OUR plans and lead according to OUR desires (e.g., our desire to be liked and please people)....the ONLY effective way to lead a church is what you describe, and that is to wait on and pursue God's plans wholeheartedly.

  3. Oh, and especially, THANKS SO MUCH for commenting!